Sunday, July 29, 2007

Reflections on the Present Condition of the Principality, by One Newly Returned

I am back from Wales, happily still with the rake-thin silhouette that fits me to consort with Bryan (see Who's Your Fat Friend? below). Had I been longer there and succumbed to the local diet - vast piles of fried food and chips, washed down with bad beer - it might have been a different story. The locals divide into two physical types: one wiry, dwarfish and fast-moving, with a face like a bag of spanners; the other a bulging lard mountain, only mobile when in quest of the next 'meal' or 'beer'. Outside the big cities, what one might call the cultural life of the nation appears to be non-existent. Eating, drinking and chatter of mind-numbing banality and repetitiveness fill the days perfectly adequately for local taste. After a couple of days of this, it was apparent to me that to live for even a week in provincial Wales would be a living death, and would unfailingly drive me to strong drink and insanity. Happily, though, I had no such plans - I was there to walk, and the landscapes of Wales are indeed superb. What's more, in a rare departure from tradition, the sun shone. In Wales.
Anyway, I am back, as one returning from a strange journey in time - about 40 years back, I'd say - and space. Sadly, I have no interesting butterfly sightings to report, but I did have a pleasing encounter with one of these.

15 comments:

  1. It's a big country, mate, or so they say. any danger of a clue as to where you've been wandering? yeah, those welsh can talk a hole through an iron pot. but it's a nice accent, you can tune out the lyrics and just listen to the music.

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  2. What the f***'s an enocounter?

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  3. It's a good word, though.

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  4. A surprisingly big country, Ian - and I was in Carmarthenshire, somewhere in the vicinity of a famous boathouse where the appalling Dylan Thomas wrote many of his poetical effusions. This was not, I need hardly say, my destination. Fine country, to look at.

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  5. Tread carefully, Nige. Beware the Welsh dragon! The spirit of Owain Glyndwr may visit you at the dead of night and threaten you with an eternal walk through the back streets of Rhyl. I understand the human heart is quite vulnerable at 3.00 in the morning.

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  6. As a Welshwoman who has permanently escaped to Sicily your article did make me smile. I know of no other country where the small towns are so differemt from the cities than Wales. But oh, I do miss that accent!

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  7. I don't think Wales has a monopoly on chatter of mind-numbing banality, does it now Nige (such a lovely English name)...and what do you mean about bad beer? Brains S.A. (Skull Attack) is a delight.

    I hope it put you in the mood for reading some R.S.Thomas, the other great poet of the twentieth century. My grandfather used to detest Dylan Thomas who he often saw rolling around drunk in the gutters of Carmarthen, but at least Thomas could write a bit.

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  8. Susan B., wingless,July 29, 2007 4:54 pm

    I killed a butterfly yesterday and I feel very bad about it. Actually, the butterfly sort of committed suicide: It flew in front of my car when the car was going 80 mph crossing a gap in the Allegheny Mtns. Daughter and I found it in the grille when we stopped to get gas. Very sad. It looked like a lemon migrant, though I don't even know if those get this far north.

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  9. Oh Susan; 80mph crossing that gap. Who knows who/what else is lurking behind that grille, no longer part of this world? I suppose Nige will hope that he, she or it is Welsh.

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  10. You're right there, Windbag - Wales has no monopoly on any of the minor horrors I described. And R.S. Thomas a very fine poet. I hope the Welsh also claim the great Edward Thomas as one of their own, which he surely is.
    And Susan, I commiserate. And, having looked up the lemon migrant, I see that it resembles our own brimstone - the butterfly that, being butter yellow and often the first to be seen, might have named the entire tribe.

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  11. well done, nige.

    I have a theory which so far has held up to experiment. the funnier the name, the worse the beer. Though be warned - it doesn't always work the other way around.

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  12. Too right, Ian. While in Wales, risking a 'When in Rome' moment, I tried a straightforwardly named brew - Warrior - by a very Welsh-named brewer - Evan Evans. It was vile.

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  13. On the upside, a friend who lives in a part of the world perilously close to the Welsh border tells me his area is blessed with large numbers of these.

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  14. I once mistook a common brown for the more poetic sounding gatekeeper - wishful thinking, perhaps. there's lots of LBJs around here, even the large white looks exotic in amongst their numbers.

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